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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Mended Heart

Monday, August 20, 2012

Wrigley was comforted after her surgery by holding on to her stuffed lamb.
Wrigley Leyden is a strong little fighter. The 3 year old underwent heart surgery Aug. 7 at Children's Hospital in Omaha to correct a narrowed area of the aorta. She is back home now in Emmetsburg with her parents Dru and Ashli (Launderville) Leyden where she is recovering and regaining her gusto.

Wrigley, who is also the granddaughter of Jeff and Marketta Leyden and Gary and Sandy Launderville, all of Alta, is also a very lucky little girl - lucky that the problem was discovered when it was.

When she broke her arm in March, it was discovered she had a heart murmur and the doctor told them to keep an eye on it. On July 4 she was taken to the doctor again after being exposed to foot, hand and mouth disease. Again, the doctor was concerned about the murmur and after bringing in a second doctor, it was decided an echocardiogram should be done at the Spencer Hospital.

It was shortly after the test was run that Wrigley's parents received a call from the hospital saying they needed to see them right away; a second call from a Sioux Falls, SD hospital saying an appointment for them had been scheduled made them realize something was terribly wrong.

It was at the Sioux Falls hospital that the Leyden's heard for the first time COA - coarchtation of the aorta, a congenital defect.

The defect can affect the body's blood circulation because the left side of the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the narrowed aorta. Sometimes the narrowing is minor and might not even cause symptoms.

Wrigley's blood pressure was being affected by the condition - really high blood pressure in her upper body and really low in her lower body.

Arrangements were made to have the surgery in


Ashli and Dru did their own research on COA and Ashli was also able to talk to a friend whose son had the same condition and undergone surgery as well.

Explaining to a 3 year old that she would be having such a surgery was difficult.

"We told her she had a broken heart and that the doctors were going to fix it," said Ashli. This seemed to satisfy her.

The surgery took several hours. While in surgery it was discovered that there was a larger piece of aorta that was pinched shut then they first suspected. In some cases, a stint is able to open the narrowing but in Wrigley's case, that damaged portion was taken out and a new connection was made.

The surgery entailed going through her back, separating her ribs and shoving her lung over to get to the damaged area.

Wrigley's recovery time in the hospital was quick. It was trial and error to come up with the right medicines to stabilize Wrigley's blood pressure but finally the right ones were found. Several echocardiogram were completed in the hospital and several times her heart was listened to.

She enjoyed all the attention!

"If this little girl doesn't become a nurse or doctor we will be amazed," said Ashli. "She wanted to know every little thing they were doing to her and loved to listen to her heart and anyone's heart. Anytime a nurse came in she'd say, 'Can you listen to my heart? My heart is all better now!'"

Wrigley was able to go home on Sunday, much to the pleasure of her family, including big brother Blaine, 4, who missed her very much. There will be many check ups and pills to take for quite some time but it is all worth it to have her all fixed up.

In looking back, Ashli said, while it was painful for Wrigley when she broke her arm, they are glad it happened so that the problem was discovered. Had it gone undetected, they may have eventually seen Wrigley blacking out and she could possibly have even had a heart attack.

Ashli wants other parents to be aware that if they are told their child has a heart murmur, to take it seriously. Some children grow out of heart murmurs it but in some cases, like Wrigley's, it is a serious deal and needs further attention.

"We truly want to thank all of our friends and family for thinking of us this past week and praying for us," Ashli said. "It is amazing how many people were behind us! Wrigley is one lucky little girl to have so many people behind her. She still has some healing to do and a road ahead of her but we are so lucky that Dr. Abdullah did an amazing job and all of the team at Children's hospital in Omaha were wonderful and looked after Wrigley so well."

Wrigley's story and progress are on a caringbridge site. Log on and visit wrigleyleyden (no spaces) to keep up with with Wrigley.

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